China was unapologetic in the face of scathing remarks by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for blocking and firing water cannon at two Philippine boats carrying food supply to Filipino soldiers in Ayungin Shoal in West Philippines.

Zhao Lijian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said the Philippine boats “trespassed into the waters” near Ayungin Shoal (international name: Second Thomas Shoal, Chinese name: Ren’ai Jiao) Tuesday.

“Chinese Coast Guard vessels performed official duties in accordance with law and upheld China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order,” Zhao said during his daily briefing with reporters Thursday.

Manila strongly protested the action, insisting that the reef is part of Philippine territory and maritime sovereign rights. Locsin also made reference to the US-PHL Mutual Defense Treaty that could be invoked if a Philippine public vessel is attacked.

Zhao said the “sea area” in the West Philippine Sea “is generally tranquil.”

“China and the Philippines are in communication on this,” he added.

Locsin said he respects China’s right to say whatever it wants to say. But he drew the line when Chinese Coast Guard used water cannon on the Philippine boats.

“It’s a free world; we can both claim and say whatever we want. It is what we do that matters. It all turns on the water cannon,” the country’s top envoy said.

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